wrongful death attorney in Charlottesville, VA
When someone dies due to the actions of others, whether willful or negligent, the law allows for compensation for damages. This is typically accomplished with a wrongful death suit and/or a survival action.
Because these two types of lawsuits are so similar, they are frequently confused for one another. To further complicate matters, the laws that govern whether the situation calls for a wrongful death suit or a survival action vary among jurisdictions. Some states require the estate to bring either a survival action or a wrongful death suit, while others allow the estate to file both at the same time.
Who Seeks Damages?
The plaintiffs of a wrongful death suit can include the victim’s family members. The purpose is to compensate them for the damages they’ve suffered as the result of a loved one’s death. These can include lost wages, funeral costs, loss of benefits, parental care, and loss of consortium or companionship.
While a wrongful death suit is filed on behalf of family members, a survival action is essentially a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the person who died. Its purpose is to seek compensation for damages that the decedent endured as a result of the accident prior to his or her death, rather than reimbursing the family for their losses.
Who Brings the Suit?
Family members of the decedent initiate a wrongful death suit. If there are many plaintiffs, one individual may be chosen to act on the family’s behalf. However, it is not the family members who bring a survival action. Rather it is the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate. This is because a survival action seeks compensation for the damages suffered by the decedent. Another way to look at it is that the individual’s personal injury case lives on even after he or she passes away.
Who Receives the Compensation?
Ultimately, it is usually the family members who stand to benefit from either a wrongful death suit or a survival action. Because they are the plaintiffs in the wrongful death suit, they are likely to receive compensation more directly. Initially, it is the estate that will receive the compensation for a survival action. The assets will then be distributed according to the decedent’s will. In that case, family members stand to inherit eventually, once the provisions of the will have been satisfied.
Understanding the legal challenges surrounding the wrongful death of a loved one can be very difficult, especially if you are still coping with your grief. Attorneys can answer the questions you have and explain your options to you. Contact a wrongful death attorney in Charlottesville, VA today.
Call MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and comparing survival action to wrongful death.